The goal of LKSB (The Fellowship of Lithuanian Christian Students) is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to students. Our Fellowship unites and supports Christian student groups and those who are interested in Christianity at our local universities and also encourages students who are believers to testify about Jesus Christ to their fellow students. What are the structures where this happens? What are the principles governing the Fellowship? How does the Fellowship of Lithuanian Christian Students operate?
Membership is the foundation of all the work done by our Fellowship. Only members can act and talk in the name of LKSB. “A student whose permanent residency is Lithuania can be a member of the Fellowship. A person becomes a member of the Fellowship after he or she agrees with our Statement of Faith and with LKSB Articles confirming it in writing” (Articles 5.1.). By becoming a member a student becomes obligated to proclaim the Statement of Faith and the principles of our work expressed in LKSB Articles. This is how membership allows to solidify the essence of Evangelical belief system and to maintain the identity of this group. Members encourage and support each other in their university lives and in the work of the Fellowship. Through membership students are involved in the governing of the Fellowship.
Elected members of the Board and salaried employees are also members of the Fellowship (4.3.3., 4.7.1.).
Members are accepted by the local governing body (5.1.1.), i. e. by other students or the General Secretary when a local Chapter does not exist (4.4.5.). The governing body of a Chapter should take into consideration the advice of a faithful employee.
Members who are students govern their local Chapter, take part in conferences and elect members of the Board.
The list of members is managed by the General Secretary (4.4.5.). A member is crossed out from the list after graduation. Former members communicate and get involved in the activities of those who graduated.
Chapters are activity centres for the work of the Fellowship at educational institutions. “For a Chapter to be formed the Fellowship has to have at least five members” (4.6.1.). Students from a university (college) or students from various educational institutions from all over their city can assemble and form a Chapter. An employee assigned to a Chapter is not a member of that local Chapter. Smaller groups (up to 5 members) are governed by the General Secretary. Questions related to the establishing or closing down of a Chapter are resolved by the Board (4.6.4.).
A Chapter has its own election and governing order which is confirmed in writing and verified by the Board. A leader is regularly elected from the members and he or she has to report to the members of the Chapters and to the Board, i.e. not the employees (4.6.3.).
The activities of a group are planned and coordinated at a Chapter. The governing body of a Chapter accepts members and resolves current affairs. People who are not students (except for the employees) cannot regularly take part in the work of the Chapter. The Chapter is not a juridical entity (4.6.5.). If the Board agrees, a Chapter can strive to be officially recognized at an educational institution (i.e. to become a student club or a student organization). When the governing body of a Chapter decides and the Board agrees, former members of the Fellowship can become friends (i.e. supporters or counsellors) of a Chapter or group.
The highest management body of the Fellowship is the Conference. It is the general meeting of all members of the Fellowship (4.1.1.); all members have the right to participate (4.2.1.). The Conference is equivalent to a parliament of a country, or to an assembly and to the General Synod of churches.
Much attention to the Conference is paid in the Articles since it is the main control institution country-wide for discussion, consultation and decision making. A common Conference is held each year. Only participants of the Conference elect and withdraw members of the Board (184.108.40.206.) and can change the Articles of the Fellowship (220.127.116.11.). The Conference controls the finances of the Fellowship and affirms or not the annual reports of the Fellowship (18.104.22.168.). Participants of the Conference “can discuss all questions within the boundaries of the Board’s competencies” (4.2.5.). In this way the Conference monitors the activities of the members of the Board and employees; Chapters are not directly controlled by the Conference. The Conference is managed by the President of the Board or by an elected President of the Conference (4.2.13.).
The Board is a “management body composed of several different institutions” (4.3.1.). It is collegial since the Board consists of a few people who discuss all questions in the spirit of collegialism; decisions made by voting (4.3.5.) are treated as general. It is a management body because it “addresses strategic questions of the [whole] Board’s activities” (4.3.4.), e.g. related to the competence of the Chapters.
The Board employs and designates employees (4.3.6.), confirms annual reports and projects of the Fellowship (22.214.171.124.), manages questions related to the establishment and termination of Chapters (4.6.4.), and accepts complaints from members (5.3.7.).
The number of Board members is not fixated in the Articles but in accordance with the rules for a quorum and voting there has to be at least 3 members. The Board is elected at the Conference (126.96.36.199.) for a period of two years (4.3.2.). Since the Board relies on Evangelical beliefs (the Statement of Faith: “Who we are: 10 features of the Fellowship“), members of the Board have to be members of Evangelical churches. The dominance of one church or one theological leaning is avoided in the Board.
Local Chapters are accountable to the Board, but they can manage independently. The Board “can review any question falling in the boundaries of the General Secretary’s competence and to express issue binding instructions related to the subject in question and to submit it to the General Secretary” (4.3.4.). The General Secretary implements the decisions of the Board (188.8.131.52.).
The General Secretary is not a member of the Board but his participation in Board meetings is desirable since he, together with the President of the Board, organizes Board meetings (4.3.7.). The Board elects its President, who “leads the Board and the General Secretary” (4.3.7.). The Board meets “at least once in half a year” (4.3.3.). The Board does not directly manage other employees (4.3.4.).
Since the Fellowship is a civic organization its activity pillars are volunteerism and the spirit of Christian brotherhood. In theory, the Fellowship can act without salaried employees (the Board may, but it does not have to hire employees). Employees who work directly with students are: the General Secretary and other employees who are coordinators of Chapters. The ministry of the General Secretary is especially beneficial and needed since he coordinates the practical work of the Fellowship (4.4.2.). He is working as the manager of the Fellowship and as an administer of the resources of the Fellowship (4.4.4.); he fulfils clerical duties (184.108.40.206.) and administrative matters as well as represents the Fellowship in other bodies and leads the employees (4.4.2.). The General Secretary is not elected but he is employed; it is common practice that an employment contract is signed and that his work is paid. He is accountable to the Conference and to the President of the Board (4.4.3.).
The Fellowship may hire as many employees as needed. First of all, employees who would coordinate activities in „local Chapters, educational institutions or cities“(4.8.). The Coordinators of Chapters confirm the leaders of Chapters and consult them when accepting new members. If a city does not have an appointed employee, this function (unless otherwise provided) is performed by the General Secretary.
The main task of employees (the coordinators of Chapters) is to help specific Chapters assigned to them: support their students; encourage, teach and motivate them; to be assistants; to give enough needed resources and tools; to coordinate activities country-wide, and to help in project implementation. Employees do not lead Chapters.
LKSB is a student Fellowship. The decision making vote belongs to the governing bodies of the Chapters, to the Conference and to the Board. These three bodies are represented by students and can act in their name because they are elected. All employees are executive (implement the decisions made by the Conference and the Board). The students try to act on their own as much as possible – in local Chapters and Conferences; they also delegate various functions to other bodies (the Board, employees). The employees are executives and helpers – servants but not leaders; they only do the work which cannot be done by the students (e.g. prepare resources, coordinate activities country-wide). The activities of all the bodies of LKSB are oriented to students and aims at helping them; everything is done so that “student initiative would be encouraged by entrusting them [i.e. students] with responsibility and giving them leadership skills“(2.1.6.).
LKSB Articles do not determine or regulate the activities of volunteers who are not students. However, it is known from practice that their help is beneficial and needed. In order for their ministry not to suppress student initiative and not to overlap with employee responsibilities, we note that: if students cannot perform certain tasks and if the employees assigned to them cannot properly help nor do it themselves (or if a Chapter does not have an assigned employee), only then volunteer help is permissible in the Fellowship. There can be three types of volunteers: “pioneers”, “mentors” and “assistants”.
In a city or university where there are only a few Christian students and where an active group (Chapter) does not exist, a pioneer volunteer has a platform to act. He unites Christian students to a group (performs preparatory work for a Chapter to be opened), supports and encourages students. In reality he may perform the functions of an employee for some time. The work of this kind of a volunteer is temporary and limited. In general it can be likened to the team work of IFES “Interaction“.
An active group or Chapter may have long-term volunteer mentors – usually they are former members of the Chapter who give advice, share their experience, care for and support local students in every way possible. They are not involved in the regular activities of a Chapter; they are peripheral characters and they stay in close communication with the leader of a Chapter and with the employee assigned to a Chapter. The need for these volunteers is determined by the local Chapter.
Third way of helping comes from volunteers who are assistants. For 1 or 2 years after graduation, former members in the entire Fellowship or Chapters (groups) perform various clearly defined tasks assisting the General Secretary (they have a chance to join LKSB structures in the future, e.g., become employees). Volunteer assistants work voluntarily and are accountable to the managing body of a Chapter and to the General Secretary.
The General Secretary signs a terminated support agreement with the volunteers (if these are mentors, with the leader of a Chapter); the support agreement is approved by the Board. Volunteers have to agree with the Statement of Faith and with LKSB Articles; they do not become members but they obtain the right to act and talk in the name of the Fellowship. Volunteers have to be members of an Evangelical church.